Lobster Tails with Cracked Black Pepper and Cinnamon
Dealing with live lobsters can be messy and tedious (and some of us may squirm at the prospect of killing them). Fresh or frozen lobster tails, which contain a large chunk of the meat, are perfectly acceptable. In fact, they are gorgeous when served against the backdrop of creamy coconut milk studded with ginger slivers, coarsely cracked black peppercorns, and sweet-smelling cinnamon. The beauty of this curry(sauce) is that it never overshadows the delicate flavor of the lobster meat. I like to serve this with the steamed rice nests called Coconut-Dusted Rice Noodles. Steamed red rice or even basmati rice is fine as an alternative.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursehot appetizer
Dietary Considerationhot appetizer
Taste and Texturecreamy, hot & spicy, savory, spiced
- 2 small fresh or frozen lobster tails (about 1 pound total; thawed if frozen)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 green or white cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long)
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
- 12 to 15 medium-size to large fresh curry leaves
- 2 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 1 inch long, 1 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick), cut into matchstick-thin strips (julienne)
Cut the lobster tails in half lengthwise, through the shell, using either kitchen shears or a cleaver. (The meat will remain in the shells as you poach them, making for an attractive presentation.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks, and stir-fry until the onion is partially browned and smells aromatic, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk and add the pepper, salt, curry leaves, and ginger. Stir once or twice to incorporate the flavors. Place the four lobster halves, meat side up, in a single layer in the pan. Anoint the tails with the creamy sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and poach, basting the tails occasionally, until the meat is white and firm and the tails curl up slightly (akin to shrimp), 7 to 9 minutes.
Lift the tails onto a serving platter, and cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep warm. Raise the heat under the pan to medium-high and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the lobster tails, and serve immediately.
2008 Raghavan Iyer